Apple Music could soon get AI smarts to personalise how you listen on iPhone

Apple's latest purchase is a small company with big ideas

Apple Music Dolby Atmos
(Image credit: Apple)

It's always a good idea to see which companies Apple is buying. Eleven years ago it bought an obscure mobile assistant firm called Siri; four years later it bought the music service Beats Music and its associated headphone division. And now it's bought AI Music, a firm whose name makes it very clear what kind of business it's in. And that could be very interesting for the AirPods users of the near future – and maybe for users of the Apple AR/VR headset, too.

According to Bloomberg (opens in new tab), Apple is making fewer acquisitions these days – so the ones it does make are clearly important. And this one "will be used to bulk up Apple's audio technology."

What can AI bring to your AirPods?

The story comes from our favourite news source, A Person With Knowledge Of The Matter. According to them, the technology could be used across Apple's various audio offerings: not just Apple Music or AirPods, but Apple Fitness+ and maybe even games.

As usual the newly acquired firm has removed its website, but Bloomberg accessed an older version and the firm's LinkedIn profile to find out more: "The idea is to generate dynamic soundtracks that change based on user interaction," it reports. "A song in a video game could change to fit the mood, for instance, or music during a workout could adapt to the user’s intensity."

MacWorld (opens in new tab) did some digging too, and unearthed a 2017 interview with AI Music CEO Siavash Mahdavi. The firm aims to “create a remix for someone that connects with them and pulls them into the song"; rather than create new music, it aims to “to shift the way in which music is consumed... Maybe that same song when you play it as you’re about to go to the gym, it’s a deep-house or drum’n’ bass version. And in the evening it’s a bit more jazzy. The song can actually shift itself. The entire genre can change, or the key it’s played in.”

I'm really intrigued by this. We've already seen tech that can choose music that fits your activity levels, so for example it won't play your German nosebleed techno playlist when you're out for a gentle stroll or your favourite Gregorian chants when you're killing it at the gym. But tech that can change the genres of songs is absolutely fascinating. As a listener and a gamer I can't wait to hear it in action; as someone who also makes music, I'm trying to imagine the implications it has for musicians – and their income. If Apple Music remixes the song, who gets the royalties?

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).